Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Alberta Road Trip - Day 1

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The Prince George Cougars have arrived safely in Alberta and are set to begin their three-game road-trip on Wednesday night against the Edmonton Oil Kings. But this isn’t just an ordinary road-trip to Seattle or Spokane.

This road trip holds special significance for 10 of the 24 players on the Prince George Cougars roster. Nearly half of the team was born in Alberta.

“It’s really exciting. I’ve been looking forward to it all year,” said Cougars rookie forward Jake Mykitiuk who is from St. Albert, which is not far from the Alberta capital. “We only get to come here once this season, so I hope we can make the most of it.”

Over the course of a 72-game hockey season homesickness is inevitable, and when a player like Troy Bourke (Onoway, AB) gets a chance to visit with his family – He doesn’t take any of it for granted.

“It’s huge. Even better now that we’re winning,” said Bourke who has recorded five assists in his last two games. “It brings a spark back in your game. Over the next few days getting a chance to see everybody will make it that much better.”

Add Rexall Place to the long list of intimidating buildings that the Cougars rookies will be playing on for the first time ever. The advantage here though is that the Cougars have already won in some difficult rinks this season, and this time the Cougars may have more of a home-ice advantage than the opponent realizes.

The Cougars are coming into Wednesday’s game having won both games from the weekend against Lethbridge. When the puck drops Wednesday night they’ll hold two games in hand on the Victoria Royals, and are well within striking distance of that eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Earlier this season, Jordan Tkatch (Prud’Homme, SK) scored goals in four straight games during the Cougars Saskatchewan road-swing. Will one of the 10 Alberta-born players be able to accomplish something similar? Time will tell.

But for now the Prince George Cougars are going to do their best to enjoy a small piece of home’ in the middle of January, and hope that a few home-cooked meals and a louder cheering section can help push them to victory against three difficult Alberta opponents.

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